Still Me, Still Deadly: Living with Dementia
When someone has dementia it can seem like the real them has gone missing. But having dementia, or caring for someone with dementia can be easier when we know about the signs and symptoms.
When someone gets dementia, their behaviour can change, they might think or feel differently, they might say things that are unusual, or their spirit may be busy while their bodies deal with the physical changes. Different people experience dementia differently.
What might it feel like to have dementia?
It’s important to remember that while someone with dementia may seem different, they just experience the world differently. They still have stories, songs, feelings and ideas.
What are some of the signs and symptoms of dementia?
Sometimes people can get worried that they, or someone they care about is getting dementia. They may be getting forgetful or doing things that seem strange. There are lots of signs and symptoms that might indicate that someone has, or is developing dementia.
Signs and symptoms can vary depending on the person and the type of dementia. A person who is developing dementia may not always be fully aware of the changes in their behaviour and functioning. Some things to look out for include:
Memory loss that gets in the way of doing day to day things
Saying the same thing or asking the same question over and over
Confusion about time and place
Loss of interest in things they were interested in before
Changes in personality (they may be angry about things when they have never been an angry person)
Losing items or not being able to find things
Trouble finding their way around a familiar place or getting lost
Poor judgement (they may do or say things that seem out of place)
Problems with language (someone may forget words for common items, mix up words or letters, or start to use languages they haven’t spoken in a long time)
Having trouble doing everyday tasks (they may not get the order right when making a cuppa, or may have trouble putting clothes on the right parts of the body)
Social problems (they might struggle having a conversation, get nervous about being in social situations all of a sudden or resist doing the social things they used to enjoy)
There may be many other signs and symptoms that vary from person to person. If you are noticing some of these signs and symptoms in yourself or someone else, it’s important to see a doctor. Some of these symptoms could also be a sign of other health and mental health issues. Occasional memory lapses are normal and usually nothing to worry about.
What could seem like dementia, but be something else?
Some of the signs and symptoms of depression for an older person can look similar to the symptoms of dementia or people with dementia might also have depression. But depression and dementia aren’t the same thing, they are treated differently. There are treatments for depression that can improve these symptoms, so it’s definitely worth checking this out with the doctor.
Delirium is a serious medical emergency that can come on quite suddenly for someone who already has dementia or for someone who has no signs and symptoms of dementia. It can be quite scary for the person and for others who may see someone’s symptoms come on very quickly. People may be very confused, have big changes in mood, become aggressive, or do other things that are very out of character for the person.
If someone is experiencing delirium it is very important to get them medical support.
Supporting a person with dementia
Caring for a person with dementia can be really hard. Every person has a different journey with dementia, and so do the people who care for them. There are a lot of resources around that provide ideas about supporting someone with dementia and supporting carers too.